Many sports events are disturbed by the pandemic. However, it’s not the case with esports. Indeed, esports tournaments were halted for a while. Now, it resumes, even though it’s held online. In fact, the number of esports viewers is getting bigger since many countries encourage their citizens to stay at home.
That’s why I will discuss the viewer trends of esports leagues in 2020 so far. Those leagues are Mobile Legends Professional League, PUBG Mobile Professional League, and Free Fire Master League. Why esports leagues? Because an esports league run for weeks, unlike competition with tournament format which will be finished in days. These leagues are chosen because they are official from the publishers. Besides that, it’s worth noting that we only choose to count the data from YouTube and Facebook because it’s opened to the public.
To see the viewers trend from those 3 leagues, I monitor the number of views on MPL ID Season 5 and Season 6, PMPL ID Season 1 and Season 2, then, FFML Season 1 and 2. The data here is collected on 24 August 2020.
Mobile Legends Professional League Indonesia
At the beginning of 2020, MPL ID started its fifth season. At that time, MPL was broadcasted through a couple of official channels. However, because I don’t have the viewers data from the others, I would only count the data from Mobile Legends: Bang Bang YouTube Channel and also MPL Indonesia Facebook account.
During the season, MPL reached a total view of 73.6 million. The video with the most views is the last day of Playoffs, featuring the grand final, with 5.4 views. Considering the grand final featured RRQ vs EVOS, it’s no wonder the viewers were enormous.
Every week in the whole season, viewers number of MPL is constant. For 8 weeks (without Playoffs), the total views reach 59.6 million, with weekly average views 7.4 million.
Except for the Day 3 on Week 7, the viewers of MPL ID Season 5 are never under 1 million. Meanwhile, on the first and second days of Playoffs, the views numbers reach 2.4 million and 2.8 million, respectively.
Those numbers only count from YouTube. If added from the official Facebook page, the number of views in the Playoffs could get 3.9 views (on the first day) and 4.5 million views (on the second day).
At the time of writing, MPL ID S6 just finished its Week 2, and there are some changes in terms of content distribution compared with the previous season. There are 2 official YouTube channel in this season, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and MLBB Esports. Season 6 is also broadcasted on Facebook. The number of MPL ID S6 viewers from Mobile Legends: Bang Bang YouTube channel is more significant than the MLBB Esports channel. However, the number of views on MLBB Esports is still greater than on Facebook.
During two weeks of MPL ID S6, the number of views of this competition already reach 9.4 million views (MLBB YouTube), 4.1 million views (MLBB Esports), and 2.9 million views (Facebook).
Interestingly, even though broadcasted through more channels, season 6 doesn’t bring more viewers compared to the previous season. For the first two weeks, MPL ID S5 reached 17.4 million views while season 6 only got 16.5 million views.
As you can see on the graphic above, besides in Day 3 Week 2, the number of weekly views from season 5 is bigger than season 6.
PUBG Mobile Professional League
Let’s turn into PMPL. Similar to MPL, PMPL is also broadcasted through its official channels, YouTube and Facebook. Interestingly, PUBG Mobile esports fans prefer Facebook rather than YouTube. The views of PMPL on Facebook outnumber the views on YouTube. On YouTube, the views of PMPL Season 1 could reach 9 to 300 thousand. Meanwhile, on Facebook, that league could reach hundreds of thousands or even millions in a day.
During the first season, PMPL got 32.5 million views. It’s worth noting that when I’m collecting viewership data for PMPL Season 1, I can’t find the video for Day 5 Week 3 on Facebook — even though it’s on YouTube.
As you would guess, the last day of the league could generate the most views. The video from the previous day of the league gets 12 million views. Considering PMPL ID S1 ran for 5 weeks, the weekly average views are 6.5 million.
PMPL ID Season 2 is running currently. At the end of last weekend, that league reached the second week. So far, this league already generated 9.2 million. As with the previous season, most of the views — around 8.3 million views — come from Facebook. However, views from YouTube are also increased.
Unfortunately, if compared to the first two weeks of PMPL ID Season 1, views number of PMPL ID S2 is fewer. In the first two weeks, PMPL ID S1 could reach 10 million views. On the other hand, PMPL ID S2 only got 9.2 views. Maybe, one of the reasons is that PMPL ID S2 has fewer days compared to the previous season. PMPL ID S1 Week 2 had 5 days. While PMPL ID S2 only had 3 days.
Free Fire Masters League
The last league that I will discuss here is the Free Fire Master League. FFML Season 1 was held at the end of January until February 2020. Meanwhile, Season 2 is currently running, August 2020. For the viewership data, I could only find the data on season 1 from FF Esports ID YouTube channel since there is no video found on their Facebook fan page.
Compared to the Mobile Legends or PUBG Mobile league, FFML Season 1 get the fewest number of views. During the first season, FFML only got 792 thousand views — far fewer than MPL and PMPL that can reach millions of views. However, FFML is the esports league that shows the most significant growth in viewership number.
To distribute the matches on FFML Season 2, Garena doesn’t just use YouTube, but also Facebook. Although YouTube still gives a more significant contribution. For comparison, views from FFML S2 on Facebook only reach hundreds of thousands. Meanwhile, views on YouTube are always bigger than a million.
Currently, FFML Season 2 just finished its third week. However, the number of views already reach 9 million — which is even larger than the total views of FFML Season 1 altogether. Sadly, so far, the viewership trend on FFML is declining. That being said, MPL ID S5 and PMPL ID S1 show a similar trend. The views will increase on the last day of the league. The same pattern could also be found in the Ramadhan Month with the Tarawih Prayer: it’s only crowded at the beginning and the end.
Compared to the previous season, both currently running MPL and PMPL show decreasing numbers of views. There are some possible reasons for that trend.
First, since three esports leagues are running together, esports fans have to choose which one to watch. However, it’s different with shows broadcasted on TV. Videos on the internet could be watched anytime you want. Even many people reupload the same videos. Besides that, if you wish, you could open some tabs at the same time.
The second reason, physical distancing policy is eased up. So people are no longer staying at home or at least have options for other activities. For example, they hang out with friends or other activities in the crowd that give bigger chances of someone getting COVID-19.
The original article is in Indonesian, translated by Yabes Elia